An Overview of our Montessori 3 to 6 Programme
THE PRACTICAL LIFE EXERCISES
“Child’s work,” Dr. Montessori wrote, “is to create the man he will become. An adult works to perfect the environment, but a child works to perfect himself.”
This distinction can be illustrated by looking closely at two people who are shoveling sand on a beach on a hot day. One is a man who is trying to fill a large barrel with sand; the other, a little boy, who is filling a pail with sand, dumping it out, and then filling it again. If anyone offers to help the man, he readily hands over the shovel; but any efforts to help the little boy are resisted. He clings to his shovel because the work he is doing can be done only by himself. By constant repetition of motions he is strengthening his muscles, perfecting his coordination and gaining confidence in a particular skill. No one tells him that he has to shovel the sand; he is guided by a direction deep within his own nature.
Using the child’s natural inclinations as a point of departure, Dr. Montessori structured several exercises for the classroom to help the child satisfy the need for meaningful activity. For these exercises she used familiar objects – buttons, brushes, dishes, pitchers, water and many other things which the child recognizes from his home experience.
For the young child there is something special about tasks which an adult considers ordinary – washing dishes, paring vegetables, and polishing shoes. These tasks are exciting to the child because they allow him to imitate adults. Imitation is one of the child’s strongest urges during his early years.
Several of the Practical Life Exercises involve the use of water with which most children naturally like to play. Carrying the water in a pitcher and pouring it into a basin helps the child to perfect his coordination. As he becomes absorbed in an activity such as scrubbing a table top, he gradually lengthens his span of concentration. He also learns to pay attention to details as he follows a regular sequence of actions. Finally, he learns good working habits as he finishes each task and puts away all his materials before beginning another activity.
Although the Practical Life Exercises may seem simple and common place, they are actually an important part of the child’s development. Each task helps the child to perfect his coordination so that he will be able to work later with the more intricate academic Montessori materials. No learning takes place without concentration and attention. The child prepares to learn by performing exercises which help him to gradually lengthen the time in which he can focus his attention on a specific activity.
A young child meets the world around him through the constant use of his five senses. The Montessori sensorial materials allow the child to use his five senses to explore new information in a way that makes it easy and natural for him to learn.
Each sensorial material isolates a single quality such as, color, weight, size, shape, texture, sound, and smell, thereby allowing the child to concentrate on one sense at a time.
Sensorial materials also introduce the child to three important mathematical concepts:
Children develop a heightened awareness of their five senses and the world around them.
The main purpose of the Math materials at this level is to allow the child to feel comfortable. Maria Montessori approached the introduction of Math in the same manner as other areas, which is to take an abstract concept and turn it into something concrete.
The Math materials are divided into five areas, each with a specific aim.
Through individual and small group lessons children enjoy their mathematical experiences and gain a greater understanding of important math concepts.
The Montessori approach to reading and writing is based on developing a strong foundation for future learning. It also involves a multi-sensory approach so that children see, hear, feel and move as they learn to read and write.
Learning to read involves a number of activities:
A child loves to learn, but to learn to read is possibly the most exciting prospect of all, as it presents boundless opportunities for a child to stretch his imagination and to learn about our world and universe and all that they represent. A child’s sheer joy and wonder at developing this remarkable skill is a great pleasure to observe.
Learning to write involves the following:
Reading and writing are given a central focus in the 3 to 6 classroom as children are in a sensitive period for such learning, and we can work to instill love of reading.
The Cultural materials are selected from several areas – Geography, History and Science. As with the other areas of the Montessori curriculum, the activities created for each section progress from the concrete to the abstract. Lessons build slowly on a solid foundation and the activities are designed to expose the child to the world and her people.
The purpose of Geography is twofold: (1) to help the child to develop a clearer sense of spatial orientation through enriched and intensive interaction and experience, and (2) to encourage the child to become aware of and accept other cultures through related experiences.
Children are exposed to:
The history presented is designed to provide an enriched, early exposure and experience that should lay the foundation for later interest and understanding of time and the past. In the Montessori classroom history is divided into two parts: (1) activities to help the child develop a clear sense of time, and (2) activities to present the story of the universe and man’s role in it. We generally try to start with the big picture and work towards more specific studies in later years.
Activities presented include:
Science is designed to expose the child briefly to the way in which our world works—the study of life and the laws and structure of the universe. Children learn to observe, to question, and to collect and analyze information. We focus on presentations of simple experiments to pique a child’s interest in the sciences so that it will take root and grow over time.
Some of the topics covered:
Children are natural born explorers and scientists.